The eviction of travellers from parks in Woodley in August is a model for how to deal with unauthorised encampments, Wokingham Borough Council has said.

Some 10 caravans and “associated vehicles” pitched up at Woodford Park in Woodley, before moving on to nearby Ashenbury Park. By September 4, the travellers had left. Now a report by Wokingham Borough Council has praised its staff for moving the travellers on.

It says officers from its Anti-Social Behaviour team and Woodley Town Council’s secretary issued an eviction notice and contacted bailiffs.

The report says: “In August 2023, there was a large unauthorised encampment on Parish and Town Council land in Woodley.

“The ASB team jointly in conjunction with the Town Council Secretary served a notice to vacate the land and arranged for the bailiffs to undertake the eviction. The process was completed swiftly and managed to be completed in one day.”

The report adds: “Moving forward, this now forms ongoing good practice which will remain in place for Towns and Parish Councils to ensure improvements in response times are maintained.”

READ MORE: Travellers in Woodley: no place to stop, Wokingham council says

The appraisal forms part of a report on how Wokingham Borough Council has handled unauthorised encampments. This is set to be discussed by members of its Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee on Wednesday, October 4.

The report says there were five unauthorised encampments across the borough in the year running April 2022 – April 2023. Four of these were in Woodley and one was in Earley.

Travellers can be evicted more quickly since the council transferred responsibility for this from its housing department to its anti-social behaviour team in April 2022, the report says.

If travellers camp on council land, anti-social behaviour officers visit them within one working day, carry out welfare checks, then tell them they must leave or face possible legal action.

But the report also confirms that there are no authorised places for travellers to stop in Woodley – despite the fact that this is where most unauthorised encampments take place.

A council assessment in 2017 found Wokingham Borough needed 26 new pitches for travellers “living a nomadic lifestyle” who need to stop.

Since then, seven pitches have been completed. But these are on Nine Mile Ride, Belvedere Park and Little Moor.

Speaking earlier in September, Wokingham Borough Council leader Stephen Conway said the council didn’t have space in Woodley where travellers can stop safely and lawfully.

He said: “There aren’t any Gypsy and Traveller pitches in Woodley, and we aren’t aware of any suitable or available land in this area to provide new pitches in the future.

“At the moment, like other nearby boroughs, we don’t have a transit site for those households who are traveling and, unfortunately, no land has been identified for this yet.”